The 1,150-MW Watts Bar 2 nuclear unit in Tennessee officially synced to the power grid for the first time on Friday, June 3, the first unit to come online in the U.S. since Watts Bar 1 in 1996.
Operators have started an initial test run of generation equipment. The data collected will be used to make sure the equipment is prepared for continuous full-power operation later this summer.
Watts Bar 2 is the first reactor to comply with Fukushima-related safety requirements on mitigation strategies and spent fuel pool instrumentation. Construction on the unit halted in 1985, and plant owner the Tennessee Valley authority (TVA) maintained it in an incomplete state since then. In 2007, TVA began efforts to complete Unit 2 and updated its operating license application in March 2009. Staff with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission completed the environmental review in May 2013 and continued to update the safety evaluation report. NRC issued the operating license in October 2015 and the unit achieved initial criticality on May 23. Both units combined will generate 2,300 MW of electricity, enough to power 1.3 million homes.
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